The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is triggering familiar nightmares, says Jarvis DeBerry in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The increased news coverage, one therapist says, is reminding people "what happened when their whole world was ripped away" by a relentless barrage of 100-plus-mile-per-hour winds and an unstoppable wall of water. We were powerless to stop it. And we're powerless still, writes DeBerry. The next huge hurricane could come any time, and we know — from experience — that if it hits head on, it could rip through "what's left of our wetlands," then "drown the city and rip it to shreds." We can protect New Orleans from the storm surge, making it "much less vulnerable." But until the city has impenetrable defenses — which would require a national commitment that has yet to materialize — this anniversary will be a time to celebrate "the ongoing miracle of our longevity." Here, an excerpt:
The story is that we’ve made it this far, that we are — to quote the title of my favorite Langston Hughes poem — "Still Here."
"I’ve been scarred and battered / My hopes the wind done scattered. / Snow has friz me, sun has baked me. / Looks like between ’em / They done tried to make me / Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’ — / But I don’t care! / I’m still here!"
We are still here, as improbable as that may have seemed during those first horrible days after Katrina. We are still here — despite the indifference and incompetence of politicians and bureaucracies. Still here despite the return of crime. Still here despite a gusher of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and a coast that’s washing away.